Say No to White (rice that is :) -lemon ginger brown rice

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“Brown rice is too hard on my stomach” stated my mom. She had just arrived on a visit from overseas. When she found out I had made the switch she kept opening all my grain containers to look for even a few last remnants of white rice she could cook for herself. How can anyone decide how something is before even trying it out was my confused reaction. So she tried it out and was pleasantly surprised.

What if you could lower cholesterol, reduce heart disease and insulin spikes with this brown substitute for your regular weight?

Dear reader, Wait till you see the research I’m going to reveal to you. I have just the right data points for you. I put it all together in a comparative chart form for you to read and make up your mind.

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That was data but we are humans not machines. While this data is impressive, are you going to be able to eat it is a fundamental question my punjabi friends would say.

For your eating pleasure then, here is lemon ginger brown rice that I made for my park yoga participants.

1 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Spice Mix
1 tbsp split yellow peas
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
½ tsp fresh minced ginger
½ tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp curry leaf
1 dry red chili
1 tsp urad dal
Pinch hing
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method
• Wash and rinse brown rice.
• Cook with 3 cups water till soft(please note the ratio will be different for different types of brown rice. (basmati will need less, short grain will take more). I used my pressure cooker. Set aside. Spread onto a large plate and fluff up the rice with a fork to allow it to cool quickly. 
• In pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, urad dal. When they splutter add red chilli, curry leaves, ginger, sunflower seeds, split yellow peas, turmeric, hing and saute. 
• Pour the spice mix onto the rice. Mix well.
• Squeeze in lemon juice. Add salt to taste.

apsara touch – did you notice sunflower seeds. that was my innovation :) typically lemon rice uses roasted peanuts, but to make this recipe nut free, I decided to roast sunflower seeds instead. hope you like the idea!

Lemon ginger brown rice is ready!

My yoga in the park participants loved both the yoga + tasty vegan brunch. Weather forecast called for rain, so I switched parks to one with a beautiful gazebo.20150614_110110

Nothing like doing yoga in the park with light rain on the gazebo roof, all of us sheltered from the rain yet able to feel the fresh air and listen to the neighbouring church bells.

Not only did participants love the meal, but also a homeless girl who was watching us. I served her a plate of food which she happily accepted. When we were about to leave, she 20150614_110123

comes up to us holding this pretty pink peony. your whole house will smell sweet, she said, take it, it’s for you.. it was the last on the tree. What a sweet totally unexpected surprise. Sometimes I’m blown away. when I see those with the so-called least being able to give the most.

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Now you know my new secret to a flatter belly. Ever since I made the switch to brown rice, I find I only need a handful to fill me up. With white I needed 2 handfuls. therefore the switch from white to brown is more than just healthy, it’s also a great way to conserve resources in the environment. Now who would say NO to that.

How about you? What has your experience been with brown rice? Have you done yoga in the park + tasty vegan brunch yet. I’ll be doing one last one & then break for the summer. If you have yet to try out my park yoga, don’t miss this one.. its going to be a spectacular midsummer yoga in the park + tasty vegan brunch. 21 June is the summer solstice. Its the longest day of summer with 16 hours of predicted daylight. Come out & enjoy the energy of the sun on this special day, with me if you are in the greater toronto area. Here’s where you can sign up..

–charuyoga–

Touched by angels

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I’m a changed person.

I just had a visitation from angels. They came, brought a whole wealth of abundance, kept me in high spirits :) well spirits would do that right! And then they left just as simply as they arrived. On to 3 more friends to distribute their wealth with them.

Is this true? I keep revisiting their visit mostly because of the energy that I felt when they were here. I felt completely free, completely fear free, completely alive and fully expressed in everything. No worries, no tension, no future thought projections. Just simply kept doing my work every single day of those 5 days. Miracle after miracle happened in those 5 days.

I guess I had manifested them in my life. I’ve been drawn towards angels unconsciously over the past few weeks. Then I get a note from a friend asking if I would like an angel visitation. No idea what that meant! Didn’t even take this friend seriously. I barely knew her and here she was distributing angel goodness!

Of course I said YES! Angels are too compelling. And Who would ever pass up an opportunity to interact with the divine, to have the divine in their home as their guest, to have the divine provide advice and insights that are always in the highest good. Free of tension & worry, free of operating from the small ego, but able to work as an instrument of the divine. This was a spectacular 5 days in my humble opinion. You dear reader might be tempted to think otherwise. But the sequence of events that happened in these 5 days has me convinced that these were no ordinary days.

First the preparation. I had to clean home as If I was inviting 5 special guests home. Their names are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel and Métatron. The only other special preparation was getting ready with questions I had, doubts about taking a certain action and asking the angels for guidance. Angels are messengers of the divine so they are able to answer our questions with ease, if we can get very silent to listen to them. The other real preparation was
1. getting a candle that would burn for the duration of their stay
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3. writing out 3 wishes on a sheet of paper, one for me, one for my family and one for the universe

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On the expected day I was to invite them with welcoming words. On the night I was expecting them, I decided to meditate late night which is pretty unusual for me. But I felt it would create the necessary purity for these super-pure angels to stay at home for a visit. After all they are used to super-charged realms of consciousness. So its only natural that I try to create a rarified energy level in my home for them.

During my meditation I felt a rush of air, and was enveloped softly as if in a soft blanket. This was a very different type of air, it felt clean, rare and very, very pure. No way, they can’t have arrived I thought to myself. Its only 10:30 and I was expecting them home at 10:45 pm according to the letter. I finished meditation and as the clock struck 10:45 opened the door and smiling to myself, thinking how foolish I must look saying “dear angels, welcome to my home”.

After welcoming them in I went to my laptop to check remaining instructions. And guess what? Their arrival time was actually 10:30 pm. I’m sure it comes as no surprise. That’s what I felt at 10:30. I felt a bit sad that I missed inviting them in. But very happy that they felt so comfortable that they just rushed in with their powerful energy.

If you’re wondering what this is all about, here is my take:
In the world of energy, angels are considered to be messengers of God.
In the world of physics, everything is energy. We are all living in a field of energy.

Maharishi Mahesh yogi, a quantum physicist who brought the technique of transcendental meditation to the world explained it so clearly:

In the science of consciousness validated by the latest quantum field theories, the field of consciousness is defined as one underlying and completely unified field of pure intelligence that is the source of the entire natural world —an abstract, nonmaterial field of that can be directly contacted (and experienced) by the human mind.

What that means is that there is a field of pure intelligence that is all around us. And we can tap into that energetic field through practices of yoga and meditation. So that we can raise our energetic vibration to a much higher state. Why is this state attractive? Because as we raise our vibrational frequency we begin to operate at the frequency of the universe. The universe operates with enormous abundance and barely any errors. She has her seasons come and go, sun rises and sets every day.. etc. you know that already.

And when we are tapped into this infinite intelligence of the universe, lots of what we call coincidences happen. They are also what we call synchronicities or manifestations. Things happen spontaneously, almost magically. Here is all the abundance I experienced during those 5 days:

  1. I started my 21-day get ‘fit’ sas challenge to help those looking for SAS work
  2. I taught yoga in the park to 20 vegans and managed to cook an amazing meal to nourish them post-yoga class.
  3. I had no fear about tackling these 2 pretty big projects
  4. I co-taught a very difficult course called DS2, a new language in SAS that combines SAS with SQL without getting intimidated by this vast topic.
  5. I taught a great yoga class where everyone was completely in sync on Friday
  6. I made some amazing new friends, who are all like-minded, but have different personalities so it keep things interesting. They like to have fun, but also believe In helping others and giving back to community
  7.  I connected with some awesome people who I can now hang out with Saturdays or other times when I feel like partying :)

And the list is pretty endless. I was in a euphoric state. A state athletes call the zone, where my work just flowed effortlessly, seamlessly. Whatever I wanted to do happened. Whatever I needed to do happened. When I reached out for help, a friend came over to help me cook. There was no confusion, just a lot of beauty & grace in how my life flowed in those 5 days.

I believe that the angels are messengers for the infinite intelligence of the universe. They carry her energy with them and positively impact whatever they touch. I felt sad when they left as if a very dear friend has left me. However I know now that I can call upon them anytime I wish. What we call angels, the science of yoga or quantum physics calls the unified field. I know can access the power of the universe to have that constant source of strength & intelligence right within me through my meditation and yoga practice.

My yoga teaching has changed subtly now. With my new born experience I want to share this energetic field with others and help them reach these elevated states of consciousness. I know its possible and I know what it does. I think higher is the only way to go :) if we want to evolve as human beings. (I’m sure you will agree with this thought even if you don’t believe in the concept of angels)

As I was sharing my experience over lunch with my co-worker, she nodded and said she often wondered how it is that she was thinking of someone and immediately she gets a phone call from them. That’s the synchronicity of the universe, when we are tapped into that field, we get what we ask for.. but why don’t we get everything we ask for. Ah! That’s a whole other topic I’ll share in another post.

I cut up some fruit and kept it for them :) As you can tell, I had a lot of fun with my angels.

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I’m so grateful to have had this angelic experience. Have you ever been touched by an angel, maybe a friend in the form of an angel or a stranger? I’d love to hear how.

–charuyoga–

Park channa masala with brown rice pulao

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Park channa masala, brown rice pulao, garden salad and 20 vegans doing yoga in the park!

Yes its designed to be eaten in a park. When I started an event to teach yoga in the park followed by brunch. I thought I’d get a few participants, but 20 was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to make a meal that was tasty, nourishing and healthy. And low fat and fresh, and nothing frozen, and nothing out of a can. Only the purest, choicest ingredients for my vegans practicing yoga in the park. I even used organic cold pressed coconut oil because of all the scares I’m hearing on several facebook groups about how toxic regular cooking oil becomes due to the way its processed.

My friend came home on Saturday morning to help prepare(shh… Don’t tell her I needed her even more for moral support and to bounce ideas off for quantities.)

Because I never like to see anyone go hungry — I ended up with soaking way more chickpeas than you can imagine. Soaked 5 cups Friday night and then went and got more and ended up soaking:

9 cups chickpeas for 20 guests

Whoa – Way too much ! 

Well! I was going to another event Sunday evening. I thought I could make them some chickpeas too! By now you’re probably wondering “does she even have a pot that size to cook them all”. To answer your silent question – No. I cooked them in batches. This was a lot of work, not for the faint of heart. But you probably know me by now, I LOVE LOVE to cook & feed others. So this was never a problem. Anyway Monica helped chop and I made the channa masala.

Next I wanted to serve it with something tasty, nourishing & healthy.. brown rice or white rice was my debate with Monica. She said “you believe in healthy cooking, so If I were you, I would stick to principle and go with brown rice”. Brown rice it was.

Credit NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Credit NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Good thing I didn’t’ have to go grocery shopping for white rice. I already made the switch to brown rice last year.

I cook brown rice differently. I boil it in a pot with 4 times the water. When water boils I test the rice for doneness. When done, I drain the water and get fluffy brown rice. 

Here’s a chart I made to compare and contrast. Turns out brown rice is quite the winner!

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Park channa masala Recipe (you are probably not going to make 9 cups so I scaled the recipe to 1 cup-will easily serve 2)

1 cup white chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/4 cup red onion chopped
1/4 cup roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic finely minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger finely minced
Spice Mix
½ tsp dry roasted cilantro powder
2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
½ tsp tamarind paste
4 grains cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 green chili
Pinch hing
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method

  • Wash and soak chickpeas for 12 hours.
  • Wash and thoroughly rinse soaked channa masala in the morning.
  • Top with enough fresh water so that chickpeas are completely immersed in water.
  • Cook till soft. I used my pressure cooker. Set aside to cool. Drain water when cooled down.
  • In pan, heat oil. Add cumin, turmeric, cilantro powder, then onion, garlic, ginger, green chili, hing and sea salt. Saute till soft.
  • Add tomatoes and let them cook. You’ll know they are done when you see water and oil separate in pan.
  • Add chickpeas, tamarind paste (if using) or lemon juice.
  • Toss in cooked chickpeas, add salt and turn off stove.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Brown rice pulao

1/2 cup brown rice
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thinly
3 whole cloves garlic
1 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp carrots, cubed
Spice Mix
2 cloves black cardamom
5 grains cumin
4-5 bay leaves
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method

  • Wash and rinse rice.
  • Boil in pot with 4 cups water.
  • Check to see if rice is done, al-dente. About 10 minutes depending on the heat of your stove and your pans’ ability to transfer heat.
  • Drain rice in colander, set aside.
  • In pan, heat oil. Add cumin, bay leaves, black cardamom and saute.
  • Add chopped onions, ginger, garlic and sea salt. Saute till soft.
  • Add chopped carrots and raisins and saute.
  • Add cooked and drained rice and saute.
  • Take off heat. Serve with park channa masala.

This was a yummy vegan brunch. I kept it mildly spiced but took extras spices and sea salt so anyone wishing a bigger kick could help themselves.

What about the remaining channa masala which was meant for my evening group? So I got home after teaching yoga and serving brunch, packed my food bags and set off for the evening. To my utter surprise, the group were returning from a retreat so the evening program was cancelled. But I brought everyone some food. What was I going to do? I left with my parking all paid & not being used! Halfway through the drive a homeless man waved to me.. and came to the driver’s side. AHA ! hungry man, good I thought to myself. I have just what you need, so handed over my bags. Don’t’ you love a happy ending :)

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This group of vegans is very special. When they saw me take out cutlery & the packed brunch, they said, “Oh no, we should have brought our own. Next time, let’s go green. Let’s all bring our own plates & cutlery, that way we don’t have to throw out the used brunch containers”..Don’t you love green and mindful vegans.

Do you like my park channa masala with brown rice pulao and garden salad?

–charuyoga–

Prana green salad

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Everything is green in this salad. It has PrANA or life giving energy. Its suddenly become so warm in Mississauga. My entire home and yard are filled with fresh prana.. . Spring is time for renewal.. Now after the cold long winter, with sun streaming through my whole house, I had to make a salad to celebrate this prana.

I wanted to make a salad that would make anyone eating it come alive. What would it be?

harvested_mung_bean_01Sprouts, of course. But remember anything that good, that life-filled comes with a little amount of labor. Try not to go store bought if you can. All you have to do to have do is soak moong beans overnight. The next morning drain and sprouting will begin. When you eat this salad you are bringing life energy into your body to awaken every cell. Apsara yoga is definitely about being fit in your body, but we also believe that you do this by nourishing your body with fresh nourishing foods, bursting with flavour that make you come alive.

The icing on the cake is sustainability. Such a buzz word. But look, don’t I do it every day, in the way I cook? This salad for example..1 cup of moong beans, when soaked gave me 3 cups of sprouted beans.. Sustainability is all about cooking low tech-soaking beans in water, using minimal packaged foods-no cans..how stunningly beautiful is that. 3 cups of prana will go a long way to satisfying my guests tonight.

Ingredients
1 cup raw green moong beans
½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
½ cup green olives, drained
2 cups cubed cucumber
Spice Garnish
½ tsp green chili sliced thinly
Juice of 2 green limes/lemons
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp curry leaves
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp urad dal
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

Method
• Wash green moong beans and soak in 2 cups water overnight.images

• Next morning see the surprise awaiting you. Beans would have doubled in size and will continue to grow.

apsara tip some moong beans just won’t swell. they remain hard. To prevent too much of a crunch, take the time to sift out these hard beans that simply refuse to grow. Or if you like you can cook the beans, to skip sifting. but then it won’t be a prana salad anymore once cooked :) your choice..see the red line I drew connecting 2 moong beans, these are the stubborn ones that refused to grow :) that I threw out.

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• Rinse beans, drain and cover with wet cloth to continue growing process.

• Wash, peel and cube cucumber. Set aside. Slice olives if you didn’t buy already sliced. I had to slice as mine were whole. Toss cucumber, olives, fresh cilantro with moong beans. Set bowl aside.20150524_132922

• In frying pan, heat oil, then add mustard seeds. When they splutter add green chili, hing and curry leaves. Saute to remove extra heat from chillies. Toss in sesame seeds and remove from fire.

• Pour the spice garnish over salad. Add in lime/lemon juice and salt to taste. Apsara tip Remember olives are already salty. So go easy on salt.

• What do you need to serve it with. Just itself! This would be the most complete spring salad you ever ate. Fresh, filled with prana life giving energy, nourishing and tasty!20150524_141743

Dear reader, did you enjoy this post.? Do you believe we can save our planet from global warming with small baby steps at home. Can you then share my blog post and others like mine on your facebook page, or whatever social media you use with your circles..Are we able to encourage me & others like me to continue to share sustainability practices. Can we begin to encourage others to taste plant food and find that its not lacking taste, substance or nutrition? Can we begin to share posts like mine to encourage the value of going meatless even if its only 1 day a week. If you liked this post, please comment and do share with friends and family.

–charuyoga–

Double protein asparagus bean stew

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I got hungry at work after finishing off my lentil soup. Luckily I work in a company where healthy snacks are aplenty to keep staff fueled all day long. Feeling that hungry wasn’t a good sign. Blame it on the smaller than usual portion I had taken to work.

Beans-yard-long1As I returned home to prepare dinner, the only thought was to use my yard long beans.Temperatures have plummeted so rapidly it feels like winter came back for a short visit. Double protein stew is just what I needed to fill me up & keep me warm. No salads in this apsara’s kitchen tonight :)

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Never tasted double protein stew! Then I’m going to go out on a limb and say you haven’t lived yet :)  this tasty stew is one that my grandmother used to make for me. Its hearty and fills you up, yet stays light on your insides. I used a touch of spice from memory.

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I also love fresh coconut, but who has the time now to break a coconut and grate it for every meal. Lucky I live in a town where even Walmart carries grated dessicated coconut. At just $1.25 a packet you can’t go wrong with this bargain.

Ingredients
1 cup packed yard long beans
4 tbsp split yellow peas
Spice Paste
½ tbsp yellow split peas
½ tbsp cilantro seeds
¼ tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dry coconut
2 dry red chilies
1 tbsp ginger
Garnish
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp curry leaves
1 tsp urad dal
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

Method

• Wash yard long beans thoroughly and cut very thinly. Steam till lightly cooked and still crisp along with yellow split peas. Set aside.

20150521_192425• Dry roast the spice paste mix. Grind in food processor with ginger and 2 tbsp water till you get a fine paste.

• Heat frying pan. Add coconut oil, then mustard seeds. When they splutter, add urad dal, curry leaves and lastly cumin. Saute till spices are golden brown.20150521_192918

• Toss in yard long beans and yellow split peas. Add 1 ½ cups water. Let beans cook some more. When water starts to boil, stir in ground spice paste. Add hing. Let everything come to a final boil. Turn off stove. Add salt to taste.

• Apsara tip if you like a thicker stew, dissolve 1 tbsp. rice flour in 1 tbsp. water and add to the stew. You can use any other available thickener like arrowroot flour. Just ensure that your thickener has a mild taste. We don’t want the delicious goodness of the stew to be overwhelmed by a side kick thickener :)

• Serve with steamed brown rice and some sweet potato crisps. I like a bit of crunchy texture in my food to balance off the smoothness of the stew. If you have baked potato chips that would work equally well.

This is hands down the healthiest stew you would have ever laid eyes on or tasted. Yard long beans or karamani in tamil are available in all grocery stores in Toronto. They are also called asparagus beans. If you live elsewhere, try Chinese grocery stores which has these well stocked. Pick tender and crisp beans for the best double protein stew. Did you get why I called this a double protein stew? Because you get a double shot of protein, one from the beans, the other from the split peas.

Health benefits
20150521_195433Yard beans are low in calories, rich in fibre. They sweep toxic substances from the colon and help to decrease bad cholesterol. They have vitamin C which is great for the immune system. They have tons of nutrients including calcium, copper, magnesium and iron. One of the best sources of folates and Vitamin A, yard beans are beyond just super tasty in this recipe. They are very nutritious.

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Double protein, double yummy right. Try it out. I promise a heaven-reaching-ecstatic culinary experience with your taste buds exploding with this recipe. I can’t wait to hear from you on how you enjoyed this post.

–charuyoga–

Improve self-confidence and arm strength with dolphin pose

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‘Its easy for you’, said a friend. ‘You go about teaching others, you sing in concerts, you are outgoing. You must be born self confident or something’. No, No, no, I replied smiling at all these misconceptions.

I was actually quite a shy kid growing up. And I had many, many awful childhood experiences which will make you shiver if I told you about them. Another time I might! For now its enough to know: I wasn’t born with self confidence. Its an acquired skill. I want to share a few things you can do to get that self confidence.

But first, why should you even remotely consider getting self-confident? How does that help you? Is that even necessary? Do women need to be self-confident? What’s self-confidence anyway? Here is my take:

1. Self-confidence makes you rely on yourself. Come what may, you have that unshakable belief in yourself that no one can take away. In a world that’s constantly filled with external pressures and stresses, doesn’t it feel good to know that you always have you as your best friend?

2. Self-confidence gives you integrity. You tend to not look for ways to trick others to getting what you want. In fact the thought doesn’t even strike you as a possible way to lead life. Since you are sure of yourself, you make requests of others coming from a place of grounded self-confidence. You make requests in a straightforward manner. It makes dealing a pleasure. I’ve had people tell me: “Its so rare.-what you have. This direct quality, a straightforward way, an innocence in dealing with others.. I just love this about you”. We all seek integrity in our daily lives. Whether in our business dealings, or in our relationships, we like to be with those we can trust. Having self-confidence makes us trustworthy and increases our integrity. Increase self-confidence, integrity will automatically increase making you successful in business and your other relationships.

3. Self-confidence makes you attractive. Whoever comes in your presence enjoys you and knows that you enjoy them just for who they are. No other ulterior motives, just the pure joy of hanging out with another. I’ve always wondered about whether I’ve been able to help my friends. I used to seek out my best friend a lot when I had a serious setback in life. When I divorced and my life seemed to be crumbling around me. She made time to chat with me every single day. Even telling her family that while she was too busy to take calls from others. But if I called she would run to the phone to give me some much needed friend-to-friend therapy sessions. I asked her what she got out of this. And this is what she had to say “I learn so much from you. You are so inspiring and have so much self-confidence even though you are going through such a tough patch in life. I would always be there for you”. Wouldn’t you like to have that quality in life that makes you so attractive to others that they want to be around you even when you are in a low spot in life :)

4. Self-confidence is for everyone!. In my culture, sometimes women like to say ‘I’m not confident’. They take pride in mistakenly believing that women who are under confident are more womanly. Far from the truth! In fact, When a woman is confident in herself, her femininity and womanliness increase. Everyone who comes in contact with her has a sense of being in the presence of a grounded person. It makes for a joyful and playful contact. It is truly sweet as the pressure of expectation is taken off the other person. Especially in a relationship with a significant other. The other person doesn’t have to feel ‘Oh dear, I have to take all the emotional responsibility in the relationship, for myself and for her’. They can just be themselves as you carve a beautiful space for them to just be themselves by being yourself. I’ve had guys tell me, your most attractive quality is your self-confidence, even though I never thought of myself being that way.

5. Self-confidence is spiritual. On one of the local retreats I went for, we tried to fathom what it meant. This answer just blew me away and stayed with me..Self-confidence is having faith in God. I LOVE this. Having faith is self-confidence. Whether you believe in an outer god, or something inside of you that’s powerful and gives you direction in life, you’ve gotta love this statement.

Now to body work. Here’s my yoga pose for increasing self-confidence which I taught my class last Friday. As we move to warmer weather everyone likes their arms to be toned. Dolphin increases the strength and beauty of your arms, legs and upper body. Dolphin opens the shoulders and upper back, muscles that get very tight. It also builds core strength which has to do with self-confidence. If you’ve ever taken a group fitness class at the gym, you’re familiar with the “Work your core” talk. Its your gut, your core, your abs, that space in your abdomen which houses an energy center of yoga called the Manipura chakra.  Apsara tip If your hamstrings are tight it will be challenging to press the chest back while keeping straight legs so bend your knees slightly.

The body equivalent of the manipura chakra is the solar plexus. It’s the fire in your belly that helps you digest. Keep the fire stoked by giving it food that’s fresh, nourishing and life giving. Feed it food that has positive vibrations such as grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Try Yogi salad for a fresh feed to your body via the manipura chakra.

hope you enjoyed this post where i shared a multi-dimensional way to look at self-confidence, via the mind, body and soul(food).

–charuyoga–

Yogi Salad

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Sunday night yoga party! I love parties. Whether with yogis or otherwise.. but you know how it is with shared interests.. energy levels of a shared interest take the conversation to an entirely new level.. and so it was with my yoga group. People take themselves lightly.. and laugh & smile a lot.

I thought of making a salad. I wanted it to be fresh, nourishing and pretty to look at. At the same time this is a yogi salad. I wanted it to be light and filling, so that anyone tasting it would be satisfied and yet feel light & easy in their belly :)

As with all things an apsara makes, there is a bit of preparation time.. since apsaras don’t eat out of cans, if they can help it :) nor do they serve canned food. Soaking of black eyed peas is that task. Takes a few hours in cold water, and in hot just 1 hour.

Ingredients
1 cup dry black eyed beans, washed (lobia in hindi)
¼ cup baby cucumber, washed, peeled and diced
¼ cup carrots, washed, peeled and diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
Spice Mix
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsps dry dessicated coconut
1 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
2 dry red chilies
½ tsp urad dal
Pinch hing
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method
• Wash black eyed beans thoroughly several times in water. Soak in 2 cups water. I soaked it Sunday morning for the evening dinner. In the evening wash and rinse lentils again. If you want to make this salad last minute, just soak the beans in hot water for about 1 hour and then rinse.

• Cook till soft. I cook in my pressure cooker anytime there are lentils or beans to be cooked. They get done in minutes. Set aside to cool. Drain water when cooled down.

• Lightly steam washed and cubed carrots so they are still crisp.

• In pan, heat oil. Add hing, mustard seeds. When they splutter, add urad dal, curry leaves, dry red chili(I used 2 but you can use just 1). Apsara tip-lower chili heat by using whole & not breaking it up before sautéing. Then sauté ginger. Toss in cooked carrots. Take pan off heat.

• Add the cubed cucumber. I used baby cukes, but any variety works. I’ll share later in a video tip my apsara secret on how to reduce bitterness of cukes.

• Add in the dry dessicated coconut. This is the only shortcut I indulge in. Years ago I’d buy fresh coconut, break it open with a hammer and then grate chunks in the food processor. Now this work is already done & grocery stores carry this miracle already grated so I use that instead. Just be sure to get the unsweetened one as this is not a dessert dish, but If you do want to make it one, then that’s a different recipe for another time.

• Stir in lime juice(I use fresh green lime, but lemons work just fine).

• Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

• Yogi salad is ready!

The fragrance wafting in my kitchen. Wish I could bottle it. And even the splutter of mustard seeds, it just makes my senses so happy to see, smell, touch, hear and taste.. hope to get some video tips so you’ll get to experience a full sensory experience of my recipes. If you have any tips to video tape using a smart phone, please send them along. I still haven’t figured out how to make the phone point at the pan while I’m cooking at the same time. I want the phone to record hands-free so my attention is on the cooking & narration of the recipe and health tips.

I shared this pix with my facebook friends. There was an instant reaction.. Recipe please pleaded my friend. So in honour of this friend and the fact that I’ve now published 100 blogs.. Yes, wordpress just congratulated me on my 100th blog. Also since my previous post made over 100 hits, I’ve decided to post yoga tips and recipes all week long. Hope you enjoyed yogi salad.

Here are 3 purities around food you may want to think about.. from an ancient yoga text chap 17 verse 10 bhagavad geeta interpretation from a great master. sathya sai baba

yâta-yâmam gata-rasam
pûti paryushitam ca yat
ucchishtham api câmedhyam
bhojanam tâmasa-priyam

Listen. There are three ‘purities’ to be observed; purity of the provisions; purity of the vessels in which food is prepared; and purity of the persons who serve the prepared food.

1. It is not enough if the provisions are pure and of good quality. They should have been procured by fair means; no unfair, unjust, untrue earnings should be used for one’s maintenance. Apsara tipThat means, hopefully that we didn’t cheat anyone while earning our paychecks :)

2. The vessel must be clean, free from tarnish. Try using cast iron, and stainless steel pots.

3. The person who serves must not only be clean in dress, but also clean in habits, character and conduct. He should be free from hate, anger, worry while serving; let him be cheerful, fresh, humble and full of love. While attending on those who are dining, he should not allow his mind to dwell on elsewhere. Mere physical cleanliness, professional excellence or charm is no compensation -don’t let that fool you Examine carefully their habits and character. Phew! While this looks like a long list & hard to manage in a restaurant where you have no idea of staff :) its helpful to maybe start with yourself. Try entering the kitchen to cook as a relaxing experience.

The food you eat is such an important constituent of the physical and mental stuff of life. Purity of the mind can be and has to be supplemented by the purity of the body as well as purity in its important function, speech. That is the real tapas(penance); physical, mental and vocal.” 

This salad was a huge hit.. people kept coming back for seconds, and I didn’t have to take any leftovers home. I can’t emphasize enough the value in eating fresh, and that’s why i shared the quote from the bhagavad gita. Maybe try incorporating elements of this ancient wisdom bit by bit. Best way to eat, right! fresh & nourishing!

–charuyoga–